Trade Show ROI Calculator: Increase Exhibition Success

Posted by Tom Hand on Apr 5, 2016 7:30:00 AM in Trade Show Success


Few investments a marketer makes are more difficult to pin down and predict than trade shows. However, trade shows are a critical part of the marketing mix for most companies. Setting goals, calculating ROI and tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are extremely important for effective marketing program management.  

Just some of the challenges a marketer faces in calculating and predicting trade show ROI include:

  • Travel costs can be highly variable
  • Despite the best planning, some costs like client entertainment are difficult to control and predict. Has your company experienced client dinners where the clients are ordering nothing but lobster and fine champagne?
  • Shipping damage and forgotten items often lead to unplanned spending
  • Investments without direct lead generation activity attached to them -- sponsorship of a cocktail reception for instance -- are very difficult to objectively measure
  • Long sales cycles for many B2B companies make it easy to lose track of actual results from a specific show
  • Sales team emotional response and opinions that are not rooted in facts

Although some aspects of trade show performance are difficult to calculate, creating and tracking monetary goals and performance (i.e. leads and customer conversations) combined with non-monetary KPI performance will allow you to objectively assess and improve over time.

To determine ROI for a given show, you have to perform calculations based on forecasted lead value, actual sales generated and costs expended. If you have a longer sales cycle, it will take a bit longer to successfully complete the assessment, but it can be done if you tag and track generated leads in your CRM.  In addition to monetary figures (costs and sales), there is great value from thought leadership, public relations, and customer relations activities. Goals for these areas should also be created.

To help you improve your trade show performance, we created the Trade Show ROI, Goal & KPI Tool. The Trade Show ROI, Goal & KPI Tool calculates ROI for both generated leads and converted customers, logs your trade show costs and tracks non-monetary KPIs. Hopefully, this tool will become an indispensible item within your marketing toolbox.

The bullet points, images and clips below will serve as a handy guide for getting started using the tool.


Getting Started 

  • First, refer to the “Using This Tool” worksheet for an overview and definitions of the terms included within the tool
Using the Trade Show ROI, Goal & KPI Tool


Lead and Customer Goals

  • Enter your goal number of leads to be generated at the show
  • Enter your goal number of customers to convert from the show
  • Immediately after the show, enter the actual number of leads generated
  • After an appropriate amount of time given your company’s sales cycle, enter the actual number of customers generated from converted leads

Trade Show ROI Lead and Customer Goals

For more accurate forecasting, we find it helpful to classify customers by large, moderate and smaller. However, there may be a better way for you to classify your customer base and prospective customers.


Lead and Customer Values

  • Before the show, enter the estimated value per lead for each lead classification (we segmented by large, moderate and smaller customers)
  • After an appropriate amount of time given your company’s sales cycle, enter the actual average value per customer for a given classification. For instance, the average value of a large converted customer, actual average value of a moderate converted customer and the actual average value of a smaller converted customer 

Trade Show ROI Lead and Customer Values


Non-Monetary KPIs

  • Enter goal numbers for the non-monetary KPIs you would like to track. For example, number of meetings to be scheduled, number of  mentions in the trade press, etc.
  • After the show, track the actual number for each activity so that you may compare your actual performance to your established goals

Trade Show ROI KPIs


Trade Show Costs

  • Enter costs for each line item

Trade Show ROI -Trade Show Costs


ROI Calculations

  • ROI calculations are automatically performed for both leads and converted customers

Trade Show ROI Calculations


I encourage you to download the Trade Show ROI, Goal & KPI Tool and use it over time to track and increase your trade show performance success. Looking forward to hearing how the tool works for you.


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